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Microsoft Joins Apache Software Foundation

Microsoft inched closer to open source with a couple of announcements made last week at the OSCON open source conference in Portland, OR.

The company will become a platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation and is contributing a patch to help PHP code work better with Microsoft SQL Server. The news was announced Friday by Sam Ramji, Microsoft's senior director of platform strategy.

As a platinum sponsor to the Apache Software Foundation, Microsoft will pay "administrators and other support staff so that ASF developers can focus on writing great software," Ramji said in his blog. Platinum sponsors contribute $100,000 per year, according to the Apache Software Foundation's Web site.

The announcement adds to Microsoft's efforts to collaborate with open source, especially when it enables interoperability with some open source solutions. For instance, in March, Microsoft announced cooperation with the Apache Software Foundation by contributing code to the Apache POI project, which is an effort to create Java libraries supporting Microsoft Office document formats.

Ramji listed two other Apache projects in which Microsoft has participated, in addition to Apache POI. Those projects are Apache Axis2, which provides an interface for Web services, and Jakarta, which focuses on developing open source applications for Java platforms.

Microsoft also announced last week that it will provide code to support PHP data compatibility with Microsoft SQL Server. The company is providing a patch to a PHP data access layer called ADOdb to better enable interoperability. Ramji said the effort represented Microsoft's "first code contribution to PHP community projects but will not be last."

Microsoft has previously announced collaborative efforts with Zend Technologies, a contributor to the PHP scripting language and provider of an enterprise PHP framework and solutions. In March, Microsoft certified PHP for Windows Server 2008. The two companies have also worked together to optimize PHP for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS).

Ramji also pointed to a "clarification" of Microsoft's open specification promise (OSP), in which Microsoft opened protocols and documentation for some of its core products to developers.

The clarification seems to have originated based on Microsoft's work with Apache POI. Under the OSP, developers have "the right to intentionally subset, have partial implementations, or defects in implementation of these specifications," according to Ramji.

Ramji pointed to a comment by Microsoft's associate general counsel for intellectual property policy on the clarification.

Microsoft's OSP has previously been criticized by the Software Freedom Law Center as incompatible with the GNU General Public License, largely on the basis of being able to create new versions of software incorporating Microsoft's code.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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